Birkbeck’s green team on track to meet sustainability targets

The College’s Sustainability team has recently launched a new programme ‘The Green Forest’ as part of its mission to reduce environmental impacts and carbon emissions on campus – and is on course to meeting its own targets.

A passionate team dedicated to helping the environment at Birkbeck has launched a new programme to up the ante on sustainability.

The Greenthing Sustainability team – which also operates across SOAS and the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine – has its sights set on carbon and waste reduction across the Bloomsbury campuses, hosting a range of events and programmes for students and staff to raise awareness and promote energy-saving practices.

Sustainability Officer Delia Gadea said: “Our carbon target is a 25% reduction in usage by 2020 and we are currently meeting this, so we’re now revising our targets to make even greater savings. As for waste, we have a 65% recycling target by July 2018 and are currently at 61.14%, so we are working with staff and students to recycle correctly and meet this target by next summer.”

The sustainability team, now in its fourth year, has launched a new programme The Green Forest, which is a competition for staff to complete environment-related tasks and win points as they advance through the levels. Once every six months, teams and individuals with the three highest scores will be rewarded for their efforts. The team also holds events throughout the year to encourage students to get involved, such as the Sustainable Christmas Market.

Sustainability Manager Ola Bankole said the higher education sector should act as a beacon for sustainability in other industries: “We believe universities can lead the way to a brighter future by example – Birkbeck is already teaching students about the devastating effects of climate change and we believe the more action we take, the more others will follow.”

“Those actions can range from insulating your homes and being mindful of your energy consumption, to avoiding plastic and shifting your diet to a less carbon-intensive one.”

The team’s other top tips for students and staff looking to reduce their carbon footprint include:

  • Reducing water usage – shorter showers, not leaving taps running, changing your washing machine cycle to the shortest one available

  • Reducing your waste – shopping in bulk, avoiding plastic packaging, composting food scraps, buying reusable lunch boxes, cutlery, coffee cups, water bottles

  • Shopping less, reusing more – look for second-hand alternatives or ethical/organic materials

  • Travelling sustainably – where flying is a must, consider offsetting your air miles, try cycling or walking to work

  • Reducing your energy consumption  – switching off lights when not in use, putting your heating on a timer

  • Spreading the word about environmental issues and wins – the easiest way to get started!

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